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Sunday, September 6, 2015

GALDONI Review

My back log of reviews is staggering. I guess I'll chop into it today along with writing another less mysterious ending for SUMMERHOUSE.

My review today is for GALDONI by Cheree Alsop.

Kale is a Galdoni, genetically engineered by the government as one of its multi-species gladiators forced to fight to the death in an arena while massive amounts of betting cash change hands. It's enough money to keep the Academy pumping out warriors forever. The problem is that the Galdoni have no freedom, no ability ever to leave the Arena alive. Fighters are bred to viciously attack, without mercy, and ask for none in return. They are told it's a matter of honor.

 Kale, however, escapes when the Arena is temporarily closed (a slight plot hole I wish had been better explained). He is beaten and scarred and near death when friends find and hide him, nursing him back to health. He hides his massive wings and, for the first time, gets to go to school and learn something other than killing tactics.

We find that Kale isn't as much of an animal as some of his classmates, even. His choices ennoble him. He begins to let himself bask in the life-giving affection of his new friends--especially of Brie, while still asking the question, "Do I really have a soul?"

His time in the sun is short, however, because Galdoni are "vicious animals" to be rounded up and systematically slaughtered or returned to the Academy and their old non-lives. He knows he's going to have to go back in, if only to break the system. Kale and his friends devise the best plan they can think of. You'll have to read the book to see if they were successful.

I really "got" this story. For decades I fought in armour with sword and shield in a re-creative setting. I fought through the pain of massive welts, bruises, and sometimes cuts, feeling the life course through me as I plunged through the line of men, whacking as many as I could. The main difference being that I didn't kill anyone permanently. That would have ended the game for me. I also wasn't forced to fight. I did it for the camaraderie and fun of it. There was a certain rush in knowing you'd bested a man several inches taller and pounds heavier. It gave me a confidence I hadn't had as a child.

I give it one out of five daggers for violence (it's not a Disney movie, but it's also not going to wake me up screaming at night). I'll call it a one alarm fire in the romance section, mainly because the love sprang up seemingly from almost nowhere, but it's sweet--mostly giving Kale something to live for. I give Kale major kudos for having morals and standards despite being raised without any.

My reservations are these:

1. How did Kale learn early on to have compassion if he'd never seen any?
2. Why didn't they always target the guy's wings? That would grounded the fighter, making it easier to kill him.
3. Why didn't the unlucky Galdoni, after they banded together, overpower their guards and escape? They could have done it without even killing the losers.
4. What other animal characteristics did their makers use?
5. Armour weighs a ton--especially chain-mail. Plate, which is what these guys were wearing, weighs only slightly less. It's why castles had moats--because it sank straight to the bottom. Armour is difficult to run and fight all day in, let alone fly in. How did they get off the ground?
6. I wish there had been a little more initial fear when Brie met this hulking bird monster who had been trained to kill from infancy. He's more like a demon than loveable boyfriend material. That would have made it all the sweeter when she finally fell for him.

This book was well-written, interesting, and engaging. I liked the characters. I wept for David and worried over Kale, a little like Brie did.

GALDONI by Cheree Alsop is a great book to curl up with your husband or boyfriend with. He won't gag over it because of the fighting, and you won't because of the sweet sense of hope they weave together.

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